Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Last month's total solar eclipse was the largest tourism event in the history of South Carolina, state tourism officials now say.
The SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism announced Tuesday that 1.6 million people traveled to or within the state in order to view the August 21 event.
The "path of totality" (the area that saw a 100 percent eclipse) tracked across the state, moving from Greenville down through Columbia and exiting through Charleston. South Carolina was one of the best places to view the eclipse in the entire U.S.
When you combine hotel bookings and other travel expenditures, the eclipse had a $269 million economic impact on South Carolina.
“Not only does this research confirm what our indicators hinted at weeks ago, it puts the picture into sharper focus, adding more definition to the eclipse’s total impact,” said SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Director Duane Parrish.
More than half of those traveling in our state were South Carolinians who left their hometowns to see the eclipse in another part of the state. About 800,000 visitors were from out of state, mainly from North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Most people who traveled to or within South Carolina to view the eclipse stayed overnight, and reported participating in activities such as shopping, unique local dining, beach activities, visiting historical attractions or engaging in outdoor recreation.
Here were some of the other findings:
- Most visitors viewed the eclipse in the Greenville, Columbia or Charleston metro areas.
- About 48 percent of out-of-state visitors and one-third of in-state travelers indicate they went to an optimal viewing site like a park, a mountain site or coast.
- About 23 percent of out-of-state visitors and 25 percent of in-state travelers reported participating in an organized solar eclipse event.
- Nearly all of the respondents rated their experience as “excellent” or “good,” describing their time in South Carolina viewing the eclipse as “unique,” “amazing,” or “once in a lifetime.” The few “fair” or “poor” ratings were almost all due to poor weather.
- Another 3.8 million South Carolinians did not travel, but saw the eclipse in their hometowns.